I’ve been giving more thought to the discussion about gruesome crime fiction that we had the other day. It is always slightly unnerving when I read in the media about the latest real-life serial killer to be arrested – invariably, it turns out (horror of horrors!) that his home is full of books about murder. Of course, mine is too, even though I really don’t think I am that ghoulish, and my books certainly aren’t in the grisly mould of some current best-sellers.
Here is an interesting article by a notable reviewer, Jessica Mann, who has tired of gore. And I can well understand why. Jessica Mann’s own books are rather more sophisticated than those she has decided not to bother with in future. I’ve read several of them over the years, dating back to the days when I’d just started work and I haunted the local library, as book-buying was outside my budget.
One of her most notable books, however, is a non-fiction study of female crime writers, Deadlier Than the Male. This is full of interest, especially on the topic of the great ‘crime queens’ of the past. One of them is Josephine Tey, a class act who, although far from prolific, had many admirers at the recent St Hilda’s conference. From the discussion, it was clear that her work has stood the test of time better than most.
In her acknowledgements, Jessica Mann notes the assistance of that great Tey expert (and very agreeable crime writer) Catherine Aird, who was at the time working on a biography of Tey. Sadly, the book has never appeared. I’ve talked to Catherine about this project a few times over the years, and it’s by no means certain it will ever see the light of day. But I hope it will, eventually.